#1. You have regular access to the oceanSurfing doesn’t take much money. A good beginner board ($150-$250 for a used board), a pair of shorts, and some time are all you need. However, there is one major requirement for anyone considering taking up the Sport of Kings. You need access to an ocean with rideable waves. Of course, “rideable” is a relative term that surfers in Hawaii and surfers in Texas see differently. But even in Texas, there are waves to ride on a semi-regular basis, and that is essential to learning to surf. If you don’t have ocean access, you might consider riding an SUP or Windsurfing. Either of these sports can be done on a large, flat body of water like a large lake or river.
#2. You love the sunThe sun is your friend. It helps the body create vitamin D and gives your skin a healthy glow, but it can also be your enemy. Surfing will pit you against the sun. if you want to progress in learning to surf, then you will be sitting under the direct sun for several hours at a time. The sun can damage not just the skin but also the eyes and can lead to serious health issues if you are sun sensitive or light complexioned. There are ways to protect yourself from the sun.
Religious use of liberal amounts of waterproof sunscreen combined with Lycra shirts, wide brimmed hats, and quality sunglasses should be part of your daily plan. If you still want to be in the water but can’t handle the sun, you might want to try swimming laps in an indoor pool. Okay, that’s not comparable to surfing, but it will keep your gills moist and your skin youthful.
#3. You aren’t scared of sharksThis one is not meant to scare anyone. In fact, you are more likely to be attacked by a pig than by a shark. Heck, you are more likely to be killed by lightning or a bee sting or by a falling soda machine for that matter. But the fact remains that you will many times find yourself paddling through or sitting in deep and somewhat dark water. If you have an unhealthy fear of sharks, this could make for zero fun.
Just like with me on roller coasters. I know I won’t be hurt. I know I won’t be killed, but roller coasters scare me, and ipso facto I don’t enjoy riding them. Since freshwater for sports like kayaking and wakeboarding can harbor creatures just as sinister, it seems that the pool is a better place for you if you just can’t get over the fear of the depths below you.
#4. You have a healthy lower back and shouldersWhile it looks in the movies like surfing is all about riding waves, the reality is that you spend much more time paddling than actually surfing. Also, jumping up from a prone position and staying balanced amid turns on a constantly moving wave require a relatively flexible back. For most, surfing can help keep muscles and joints loose and strong, but some injuries (specifically in the shoulders and back) can make learning to surf difficult and painful. Bodyboarding does not require standing or shoulder paddling, so that might a better option for you.
#5. You have a lot of time to investTo properly learn to surf, you need to invest a lot of time. A normal surf session can last anywhere from 2 to 4 hours, but you will find that it takes several sessions to really make strides in your technique and performance. Therefore, if your schedule is such that it leaves very little full days to invest in your surfing, expect slow progress in your performance.
Surfing is a great activity for both your body and your soul. So if your life fits these five conditions, you couldn’t do yourself a bigger favor than to get a board and go grab some waves.